The distinctive slate-and-quartzite soil (locally called llicorella), an abundance of sunshine and an energetic group of young winemakers have earned the region of Priorat a reputation as one of Spain’s most innovative, while the area’s pristine natural beauty and long history make it a fascinating place to explore on a food and wine tour.
The orography is uneven and this means that the vine cultivation is difficult and costly.
“Priorat’s landscape lends itself to speculations of this kind. You’ve journeyed from some comfortable domestic familiarity; suddenly you find yourself in a wild, lonely chaos of hills, rocks, light and wind. The press of faces and physiques drain away; the roads fall silent; nature’s odours slide from the hills. Sun, moon and stars become actors in your life. The little villages seem almost vulnerable, clinging to their footholds, wherever a trickle of water can be found. The landscape has not gobbled them up yet – but you feel it could, and tracelessly” Andrew Jefford, English writer for Decanter wine magazine.
Its name, Priorat, as it is known in the Catalan language (Priorato in Castilian), is named after the priory established here in the hills above Tarragona by Carthusians who arrived from Provence in the 12th century.
Nowadays the old monastery is in ruins, although it is still a favorite destination for visitors to the area.